By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
The attempt to rape the taxpayers of Mesa (sales taxes and recouped taxes) and Arizona (recouped sales taxes) is small potatoes compared to the cost to taxpayers of the control of state, city and county governmental policies by promoters and developers ("House of Cards," John Dougherty, April 8).
All these gigantic projects will merely absorb sales taxes that would otherwise go into the general fund, since the spending is discretionary and would be otherwise spent in non-sales-tax-recouping businesses. Studies show even the highly vaunted Super Bowl has neutral or negative sales-tax production based on a record of taxes collected the year before and the year after the Super Bowl comes to a city. Promoter claims are hogwash.
Homeowners and business owners subsidize these "sweet deals." Then homeowners and business owners absorb the tremendous costs of schools, highways, perhaps a railway, police, fire protection, prisons, courts, infrastructure, utility extension and a host of other normal government expenses from which new "employers," promoters, builders and developers are exempted. It is axiomatic that profitmaking business should pay its fair share of taxes. However, with good lawyers, public relations men and the money to control politicians, the burden is placed on the general public.
It's the story of the frog. He will jump out of a hot pan. If the heat is gradual, he will stay in the pan and be roasted. The gradual heat is the sales tax or the fee, a little at a time; billions over a period. Also, these expenses are not one-time expenses; they are continual. Yes, after taking us for hundreds of millions, these leeches and parasites give contributions to art, music, charity, etc., and become philanthropists. Charts and graphs are promotion tools, created in boardrooms to support politician giveaways.
Thank you so very much for your insightful article "House of Cards." We have been so ignorant, having only read the Rio Salado Yes! campaign info and Tribune. We were a yes vote until we picked up New Times specifically because John Dougherty had written on the subject. We have high regard for his work on Fife Symington and felt we must read this. So here we are, thanking him for his tenacity. He's again laid out the facts clearly and simply for those of us who care, are most affected, but don't always have the time or energy to investigate something that isn't the squeakiest wheel in our daily lives.
Linda and Vince Nagy
Rio Salado is indeed a "House of Cards," especially were the facts known. One fact that's notably missing is the matter of a network of highways to support this potential disaster. This cost alone could rival the cost of the project, doubling the current estimate. It's not enough to merely run a road connecting the project to routes 101 and 202. Think of the nightmare of thousands of cars merging onto (and off) 202 from Rio Salado after a game, let alone at rush hour, a convention, holidays, etc. This project requires separate roadways dispersing traffic to outlying areas, not merely connecting to existing roadways alone. Nowhere is this highway system mentioned. That's the big surprise awaiting the citizens after the expected approval vote. The word must get out now, not after the vote.
Name withheld by request
A primary reason this Arizona native left Mesa was that the city, as it gets bigger and bigger, yearns for fame and prestige to go along with its population. Unfortunately, it's clear that if you want something bad enough, others will come along and take advantage of you.
All I heard when I lived there was that Bill Bidwill insisted that if the Cardinals were to be competitive, they would need a "domed stadium." I guess I now see why. It's a big opportunity to cut a deal with city officials blinded by the stars in their eyes. It's about money. Even the NFL, with its second (and second-rate) extortion routine (No Dome, No Super Bowl), is in the act.
I would urge Arizonans to resist the tactics of the Bidwill bunch. Private investors will always support and fund a win-win deal. It should be a red flag if they refuse to get involved, and the owners then attempt to cajole governments instead.
See ya, suckers!
As an employee of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality for almost as long as the agency has existed, I must say that I am not surprised by your findings regarding our new director, Jacqueline Schafer (Flashes, April 8).
It is what some of us at work refer to as "Same shit, different odor." At the risk of sounding like a disgruntled employee, I have come to believe that moving up in this department is not determined by your accomplishments but rather by how badly you fuck up. The misdeeds that she has put upon the state of California have therefore made her more than qualified to direct a department larger than the one she has left.
Thank you for the insightful article; I doubt this information would have been made available at work.
Name withheld by request
Rave New World
As a veteran of the Love Parade in Berlin (the yearly techno party/protest that hosted more than 750,000 advocates of PLUR in 1998), I saw a glimmer of hope for Phoenix's atrophied rave scene in David Holthouse's column "Rave Rivals" (April 8).
In many ways, Europe is inherently more adapted to the rave culture, having richer, more dense city centers. But Arizona's conservative mentality is more to blame than anything else in stinting the growth of rave.
This conservative mentality can certainly be challenged with the protest suggested by Swell's management. But such a protest should follow the Berlin model. The Love Parade began in the early 1980s by a handful of people who danced around their VW minivan in a protest "for love" on Berlin's major walking street. Last year, the promoters convinced a reluctant German parliament that the parade was a political action in favor of love, and not just a bauchus.
The Phoenix rave scene should plan to rally in this way; strictly organizing as a demonstration on behalf of an idea, and then allowing it to grow every year as a legal civil action, to the chagrin of the paternalistic Phoenix authorities.
Sure, PLUR can sound as goofy and idealistic as any hippie mantra, but it has an ability to restrain violent acts like those described in Holthouse's column, and to focus people on the reasons we rave. And if the Wise Guys care at all for rave, they would join with Swell in organizing such a protest.
Name withheld by request
Thank you for David Holthouse's column "Rave Rivals." This is a chance for the Arizona scene to catch a glimpse of what Swell Records is all about.
I've been going to raves for years, and I have always given mad recognition and respect to Swell because they've been doing their thing for such a long time. March 27, 1999, was my birthday and also the annual electronic Musik festival. I was so excited because I knew that my birthday was going to be amazing this year. I feel really bad about what happened to Swell's window; I can't believe someone could be so disrespectful. If it weren't for Swell Records, half the talent and half the big events would never have occurred or even exist in Arizona.
I, for one, do not criticize Swell because they have done so much for the Arizona scene. They seriously don't care if they make money on parties; they are there to expose good music to Arizona. I've been called a "Swell Whore" for sticking up for my friends at Swell, but I'll be known as the biggest Swell Whore in Arizona because these are people I love and respect, and I seriously don't give a s*%# if you all hate Swell. I know what they have done for me, and that's what it is about. Thank you, Swell, for being who you are whether or not people respect it. And thank you, David Holthouse, for actually taking your time to find out what really happened.
Yeah, you sucked me (and many) in with your cute little Arm the Homeless story ("Give Piece a Chance," April 1). It at least crossed my mind that it could be a fake story, since, after all, it was April Fool's Day, but it seemed so real, with the Web site and all.
Sort of makes one understand why The War of the Worlds was so realistic. At least that was a classic radio broadcast. Your story was a classic joke that truly represents what your paper is all about in the first place. What was the real point of your sick joke, anyway? Why would you screw around with one of the most controversial subjects in the country--guns? Why raise more concern and create more focus on the subject of guns and gun shows? Why cause so many people, other journalists, and law enforcement agencies so much concern? Let me guess. Of course, how stupid of me. It's your liberal viewpoint in subject reversal format suggesting that guns can be bought at gun shows "cash and carry" by anyone (oh my God!), and, let's see, uh, then they can be given or sold to anyone without any real trace (oh my God again!). Yeah, that's it. You liberals at New Times are against the Second Amendment.
You people in the dark fringes of journalism (this is where the fungus spores of New Times grow) really like to abuse and manipulate the right of free speech and the press to the fullest extent, don't you? It's okay for you to hide behind your rights while you monkey with the rights and freedoms of others. I'll bet your staff had one hell of a good laugh abusing your journalistic privileges while doing this little gig.
Gee, I sure hope you are not insulted with my few words. You shouldn't be, because thousands of us are insulted by your irresponsible journalism and total lack of taste in reporting. Hey, keep up the tasteless work. This is America. You have the right and you know it. Right?
What a great article. I can't believe that you pulled such a great prank. I can't wait until next April 1.
It is truly amazing how gullible people are. I caught on to the story right away, being that it was April 1 (although there was a tiny glimmer of doubt). Nonetheless, I think the story was a riot--how truly funny. And the letters and responses were just as funny.
A friend of mine sent the article and the follow-up info. So, 15 percent of Phoenix residents don't have any common sense and believed that the homeless were getting guns. Does this mean that the printed word really does have a subconscious control that makes us believe everything we read? Or maybe we were so busy we forgot what day it was! This demands a mom saying, "That's only funny until someone gets hurt."
Name withheld by request
The most frightening thing about the Arm the Homeless article is that it is actually plausible in our society. Tasteless prank or statement on society? You be the judge.
I haven't laughed so hard in ages! Your follow-up on the April Fool's story ("Disarm the Clueless," April 8) just cracked me up! Especially the interview Q&A between 60 Minutes II producer Klein and Whippit--"We give special preference to mothers with children . . ." The Onion has nothing on you (even if this was just a once-a-year gig).
Congratulations, New Times, for what could be the greatest mass April Fool's joke ever! What a cleverly crafted idea. The whole city was in a buzz. In a word, remarkable. I only have one question: How much are tee shirts? I would gladly buy one, and I am sure that others are asking the same. Please tell me that you have a few stashed away.
You folks are brilliant. Thanks for having a good laugh at CBS's expense. Reading your follow-up story to the great hoax, I laughed so hard, I had to take a potty break. Bravo!
Congratulations on your Arm the Homeless piece. Does the phrase "They'll swallow anything" ring a bell? I think you picked the right subject, the fixation of the Arizona citizenry with handguns. With that in mind, the story was plausible, yet it read like Zap Comixs meets Rage Against the Machine.
Arm the Homeless was also a great illustration how the mainstream media (like CNN) can manipulate public opinion, like in the case of corporate imperialism (The IMF, The World Bank) a.k.a. "Allied Force" in Kosovo.
Thanks for the media "wake-up call." The truth is out there!
David C. Brainerd
Ouch! Boy, did my ego take a severe beating when I found out that the story on the Arm the Homeless movement was an April Fool's hoax! It seems I was one of the idiots who fell for it hook, line and sinker. Despite many obvious points to the contrary (Inda House?), I totally believed it. All of it.
Thank you, New Times, for teaching us the folly of relying on the media and not bothering to seek the truth ourselves. What else can I say--you got me!
Absolutely great gag. Wish I'd thought of it.
The article about Arm the Homeless, which was written as a joke for April Fool's, seems to me to make you a fool. Happy April. I feel cheated, as I cannot cancel a subscription to your paper.
I was, at first, sorry that I will not be reading New Times again. I have enjoyed many articles. Of course, I can't be sure they weren't lies or foolishness, too. On second thought, I'm sorry that I ever read your paper.
I implore you not to make homeless people the butt of future jokes. Avoid ridiculing crippled children, endangered animals and senior citizens as well. (Didn't your mother ever mention this to you?)
Name withheld by request
A Friend Lost
There is something that has been sorely lost within American society, and that is compassion and respect for life. Anyone who knew Dana Wells ("For Reasons Unknown," David Holthouse, February 11) personally knows that Dana never looked for trouble and would never start a confrontation.
I have driven past the corner where Dana lost his life many times, trying to figure out why and how this tragedy happened. You just do not take that corner at the speed he did for the hell of it.
I am very disgusted at how the police handled this case; it was with clear prejudice. I am also very disgusted with the bands and former friends who turned their backs on Gloria Cavalera and her family shortly after the death of Dana. What the hell were you people thinking? You all turned your backs on Gloria when this family needed time to pull together.
In addition, I am so very disgusted with the two survivors who were in the car that night. Your friend died and you capitalized off of his death! Could you not have even sent Gloria a card? Flowers? Could you not spare a buck for one rose? How dare you? The way you two handled yourselves obviously shows that there is more to speak of, and your present story lacks any credibility, not only to Arizona but also to the world. After all, your actions are all documented. I sincerely hope that there can be a change of heart, and you can "speak the truth."
To those bands and former friends that turned their backs on Gloria and her family, I think that an apology is long overdue. I am sure you all know the number. And to those who knew Dana, I urge you to e-mail, fax and mail in your opinion to New Times. The legal system has to feel the pressure of the media and public opinion in order to keep this case alive and very well-known.
My name is Mark Corona, and I was quoted in the "For Reasons Unknown" article. I would like to say to the person who wrote the letter to the editor titled "Grave Injustice" (Letters, April 1) that if the article did seem one-sided, it was only because the other parties involved did not have enough confidence in the story they came up with to tell it. They were all contacted to give their side of the story, but never responded.
No one accused Shawn and Miles of killing Dana. The only reason they feel threatened is because they don't believe their own story. What could be the "right" reason for not talking, or hiding the truth of a fatal accident? Money? That's what it seems like to me. Dana's blood-alcohol level was below the legal limit. As far as smoking pot causing the accident, you must not have known Dana like you thought you did. And I don't see how trying to find out what happened to your son is so vengeful; all that is expected is the truth. And as far as the passengers undergoing serious trauma, they will experience a serious trauma on Judgment Day. To the author of the letter: How do you expect anyone to take you seriously when you withhold your name? Get the courage, stand by your story, print your name.
Remains of the Day
Some commentary is warranted on Michael Kiefer's April 1 article "A Grave Error." His statement that "every time you stick a shovel in the ground, you run the risk of being an accidental archaeologist" should be clarified. Southwestern archaeologists know that prehistoric and historic sites are clustered resources. Some areas have concentrations of significant sites, and some areas have few or no prehistoric or historic resources. Human burials are more problematic; they can occur anywhere, but again, that does not mean that they occur everywhere. Property owners, developers, land speculators and investors and agencies can contact the Arizona State Museum (Tucson), the Arizona State Historic Preservation Office (Phoenix) or the Museum of Northern Arizona (Flagstaff) to learn about their potential for finding a site during construction. For a modest fee, private archaeological research firms also will assist concerned landowners. A little due diligence will save time and money.
Kiefer wrote, ". . . archaeologists who work for other government agencies are wondering how the Bureau of Indian Affairs, of all government entities, got away with such a blatant violation of federal law," then reports that a damage assessment was performed. He continues, "In May 1997 and October 1998, SCIP held meetings with representatives of the various Indian tribes who claim descendance from the Hohokam to brief them on the damage caused by the earth-moving." All the parties involved have discussed what to do next. SCIP is now following procedures.
My experience in Arizona is that no agency in the state of Arizona has clean hands, despite printed protestations like "the rest of us would not do something like this."
The truth of the matter is that humans foul up from time to time. Look into the records of any agency, even those employing archaeologists in the NEPA, NHPA and ARPA processes. You'll find that people make mistakes. Most agencies do take steps not to repeat mistakes. This is the key to the whole issue.
It doesn't seem anyone got away with anything. Just look at the scrutiny SCIP now faces! With or without your reporting, it will be on the hot seat for some time. Check and see if it is hiring a staff archaeologist or a contract firm to cover its actions in the future. That step (or lack thereof) is something not considered in the article.
As to allegations of possible criminal intent, the professional intuition of archaeologists and tribal representatives cannot be relied upon, and the position of the United States Attorney was not reported. Guilt is determined by a guilty plea, by a finding made by a judge and jury, or in some other type of adjudication hearing. The site was damaged, and I'd be the first to say, "Shoot the bastards!" But the legal system needs to assess the guilt, not the tribal representatives or the archaeologists.
If the legal system chooses not to investigate or prosecute, then you should research and explain why. You'll find, unfortunately, that it is sometimes difficult to bring ARPA cases and vandals to trial.
A couple of years ago, the Arizona Attorney General's Office (Grant Woods) and I introduced a bill in the Legislature designed to close some of the loopholes in the Arizona statutes. I wanted to make it more difficult for vandals and fools. After clearing the House, the bill died in the Senate during the eleventh hour. I was told it wasn't a priority. I was mockingly reprimanded by a state senator who said, "Who cares about a few broken pots and bones? This is not important!"
Well, it is important, but our efforts and our legal adjudications aren't consistent at this time. It's hard to be consistent, harder to get everything you want and impossible to be perfect.
Two and a half years later, don't whine. Tell me what has been done right in Coolidge now that we are faced with the unpleasant situation.
I read with interest the article about hot air ballooning ("Would You Like to Fly My Beautiful Balloon?" Terry Greene Sterling) published in the April 1 issue.
I understand that the public may be interested in reading again about the September 27, 1996, accident involving Jeff Sherman and Naturally High balloon company, although I believe that the accident in question was already covered at length by various media over more than two years.
I regret, however, that the author of the article seems to enjoy exposing a scary, one-sided view of the entire commercial ballooning industry. The front-page announcement "Regulation of commercial balloon pilots lighter than air," and "Hot Air, Cold Facts," published on page 23, particularly attracted my attention. I would like to comment more specifically about the experience needed to fly commercial balloons, and about the safety record claimed by the pilots interviewed for your story:
1. If one questions the standards of proficiency and experience required for hot air balloon pilots, arguing that an FAA test flight in a small balloon enables the pilot to fly a giant balloon, one must also know that insurance companies have their own minimum experience requirements, usually expressed in hundreds of hours as pilot in command for each class of balloon size, starting with small balloons and requiring the experience for each size increment before they agree to provide coverage to a commercial pilot. Insurance coverage, not simply FAA certification, is what qualifies a commercial balloon operator to be a reputable player in the industry. When I took the test drive for my driver's license, I was asked to drive around a block at 15 mph, and was told to stop at each stop sign before making a right turn. The test was conducted during daylight, on deserted streets and on dry pavement. The driver's license given to me after such testing does allow me to drive a 450 hp Viper, and to merge on a congested freeway during rush hour and to drive at night and during rainy days.
2. When you write on page 23 that "the truth is, there is no way to know how safe the Valley's skies are [because] . . . without the number of passengers, it is impossible to figure out frequency of injuries and deaths [and] . . . commercial pilots do not always report accidents . . . ," I would like to say that if you don't trust the figures quoted by the balloon pilots interviewed regarding the number of passengers flown, just drive to Cave Creek and Jomax roads at sunrise for seven days in a row. Establish your average weekly figure, and do your math. As your story shows, even if some accidents are not reported by some pilots, the victims of such accidents will do it for them.
The bottom line is, in my opinion, the ballooning community is just a sample of society. You will find outstanding people, average people and a limited number of rotten apples. I would like to encourage prospective balloon riders to focus on the background and safety record of the company they are booking their flight with. As a commercial balloonist myself, I am confronted by daily phone calls of people inquiring only about the cost or about the free perks offered along with the balloon ride itself. Very rarely do I have the occasion to talk to people about safety considerations. Also, tremendous pressure can be put on the balloon pilot by the passengers themselves, who sometimes get extremely frustrated when a flight is canceled for the sake of safety, i.e., likelihood of increasing winds or unsettled weather.
In all due respect for your desire to inform the public of the potential hazards of ballooning, it would be very comforting to see you spend as much time, ink and paper on those commercial balloon operators who take their jobs seriously and provide to the public a safe, enjoyable and yet unforgettable experience.
Regarding Amy Silverman's in-depth piece on John McCain ("Is John McCain a War Hero?" March 25): Personally, I thought that was a helluva report--as in thorough, balanced, illuminating of many, maybe all, sides.
I wouldn't say there was evidence of which side you may be on--and that's notable considering the BS bug that infects even the most reputable.
I can hardly wait to see the cover story next week! Will it be "Did Bill or Hillary Shoot Vince Foster?" or "Did LBJ Hire a Hit Man to Assassinate JFK?" I'm certain that, without even trying, Amy Silverman could find a Web site and proponents of either theory and either story (or thousands of others, such as "Is George Bush the Son of a Space Alien?").
I, for one, am tired of the ad hominem attacks on politicians. I don't give a damn about their war records, personal proclivities, love lives or other irrelevant issues. I'd like to see political discourse based upon a candidate's beliefs and philosophy.
I know that you will answer that you made it clear that you didn't necessarily believe any of the allegations against Senator McCain, you merely felt that the kooks raising them deserved a hearing. When one finds mud in the gutter, it is best to leave it there. When you pick it up to show others, you're left with muddy hands--and you are. I believe that you printed the article in a desperate attempt to boost your circulation and are more contemptible than if you had actually believed the stories.
To make the record and my views clear, I am not a supporter of Senator McCain. I did not vote for him for senator (either time) and, if he should be nominated, it is doubtful that I would vote for him to be president. But that is not because I think he's a traitor, or I don't like his war record. That is because I do not agree with his views or philosophy. I realize that that may be an unusual reason, but some of us do base our votes on that type of reasoning.
Three former secretaries of defense testified before the SSC that they believed the U.S. left living POWs in Vietnam. Former NSA analysts also testified to the same. Military men with no questionable background have testified. Documents exist. Satellite photos exist. In other words, it's not just wackos who believe that men could be alive in Southeast Asia or Russia.
One final question for John McCain: Since all of the POWs released in 1973 were fully debriefed, and Colonel Ted Guy has okayed the public release of his debrief, will John McCain do the same? Why not?
As I suspected, your recent article on Senator McCain stirred up emotions, debate and a rehash of the extraordinary distortions and unfounded insinuations of some tragically bitter people. Incidentally, these are people for whom I have great compassion. I understand the pain of their losses.
Because I am a former Marine, was a POW (for more than six years) with McCain, and know of his heroic conduct, I am compelled to address comments from former Marine Bob Goldstein posted on your Web site. Mr. Goldstein, thank you for your sacrifices in Vietnam during some of the roughest times. Sadly, you diminish your contributions and do discredit to our Corps by your untrue diatribe directed toward an incredibly great American, John McCain. I was with John in Hanoi for several years. You, sir, are dead wrong, and are to be pitied for your bitterness and for being so badly misinformed. Again, I thank you and our fellow Marines for the sacrifices you made on our behalf, but suggest you must revisit the meaning of "Semper Fidelis," truly understand its profound meaning, and not hide behind it.
I could not help but notice in your pro-McCain "War Hero" piece that you did not mention that Senator McCain successfully sponsored legislation that gutted the Missing Service Personnel Act (part of the Defense Authorization Act) that upgraded the Missing Service Personnel Act to protect the rights of those missing and that more information be made available to their immediate families.
Fortunately, months later, Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell was successful in getting most of these provisions reinstated. They are now protecting the very rights of our three current POWs held in Yugoslavia--in part, that any U.S. personnel taken during any authorized military action (including "peacekeeping" missions) are classified as prisoners of war.
Also, it would not have been difficult for you to confirm that Colonel Ted Guy was the senior ranking officer at the Hanoi Hilton.
Your article was a "piece of work" for Senator McCain. You speak of libel; you, in effect, have attacked every family member and veteran who has worked to bring our comrades home for proper burials. Without the efforts of the POW/MIA community, remains being returned for proper burials would have stopped years ago.
On a final point, my wife worked at CINCPAC with Admiral McCain, Senator McCain's father. She worked with highly classified files during "Operation Homecoming" and knows, for a fact, that many military personnel who were expected to be repatriated during Operation Homecoming never came home, nor have the Communist Vietnamese ever produced many of their remains to date.
Today we hear the families of the POWs in Yugoslavia stating they will not rest until their sons are released. Yet according to your article, they are now part of those you call "zealots." No, they love their sons and await their return. I also pray for their safe return.
Thank you for your fair and unbiased article "Indian Stew" (Michael Kiefer, February 4) on the controversial work of Dr. Christy Turner. Both David Brainerd and George Armelagos (Letters, March 11) criticized Turner's work for its politically incorrect and potentially sensational content. As students in Turner's graduate class, Bioarchaeology: Cannibalism and Violence in the Southwest, at Arizona State University, we would like to respond to his critics.
First, Turner's contributions to the field of anthropology are immense. He is the first anthropologist to import psychology, sociology and chaos theory into modern anthropological thought. From these he has integrated a theory of political and social disorder, which can be used to identify such episodes and test theories about them in the archaeological record.
Turner's hypothesis of Anasazi cannibalism is based on this theoretical framework combined with the "hard-science" concepts of forensics, which in archaeology are called taphonomy. Turner has experimentally verified his work, and all of his hypotheses are designed to be falsifiable. So, if Armelagos disagrees with Turner, then he is more than welcome to experimentally falsify Turner's results.
On the other hand, Brainerd's allegations that Turner is conspiring with the Mormon church are simply absurd. Those of us who are interested in doing science as science, as Turner is, care about the truth of what we investigate, political correctness be damned. Furthermore, any brief history of anthropology, or science for that matter, will reveal a deep historical schism between science and fundamentalist religion. Truthfully, what does Mormonism have to do with cannibalism in the Southwest?
Whining about the arrangement of Turner's office as Armelagos does, or criticizing him for humanizing the noble savage as Brainerd does, is weak, ad hominem and subjective in the worst sense. We are glad that neither Galileo nor Darwin capitulated to such criticisms. We believe that science is a dynamic learning process rather than a retrograde process.